Using manipulatives and visual cues with explicit vocabulary enhancement for mathematics instruction with grade three and four low achievers in bilingual classrooms
Garcia, Edith Posadas
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A study was conducted to assess the effects of two instructional strategies: manipulative-based instruction and visual cues in mathematics (both enhanced by explicit vocabulary enrichment) in a small group setting with young Hispanic students who are English language learners. The duration of the study was five weeks. Sixty-four third and fourth grade students were selected for participation based on their performance with problem solving items from the four release tests for 1999-2002 mathematics Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) for third and fourth grades. A pre-assessment composed of 10 of the 13 TAAS objectives were administered. The four pre-selected objectives on which the students scored the lowest were identified for further instruction and assessment. The student population was limited to those of the original sixty-four achieving <55% overall on the pre-assessment. Following each week of instruction, a different assessment/probe was administered, for a total of 6 probes-including the initial pretest. For instruction, students were organized into three groups: 1) manipulative based instruction, 2) visual (drawings) cue instruction, and 3) no additional mathematical instruction. The students in the three groups were of equivalent mathematical ability, and every effort was made to ensure the groups had the same number of students. Pre-posttest improvement was measured with a mixed ANOVA (repeated measures, with a grouping factor), with instructional group as the grouping factor, and the pre/post assessment of math as the repeated measure. ANOVA results included non-significant progress for either grade level. Neither of the experimental groups in grades three or four showed significant improvement between the pre and post assessment. Six sequential probes also were administered throughout the five-week study. A trend analysis for the three separate groups was conducted on the probe results to evaluate growth over time; trend analyses were conducted for each individual student and then averaged for each group. For the two experimental groups, the overall improvement at third and fourth grades was minimal. Overall, gradual improvement was noted, but the progress did not consistently occur from one week to another, and the improvement trend was not linear.